Annal: 2004 Hammett Prize for Crime-Writing

Results of the Hammett Prize in the year 2004.

Book:Prince of Thieves

Prince of Thieves: A Novel

Chuck Hogan

The men wear masks. Their guns are drawn on the bank manager. She nervously recites the alarm code, and the tumblers within the huge vault fall. The timing and execution are brilliant. It could be the perfect heist. But as the huge sum of cash is stolen, so too is one man’s heart—and that man is the Prince of Thieves…

Charlestown, a blue-collar Boston neighborhood, produces more bank robbers and armored car thieves than any square mile in the world. In this gripping, intricately plotted thriller, Claire Keesey, the branch manager for a Boston bank and one of an influx of young professionals chipping away at the neighborhood’s insularity, is taken hostage during a robbery. She is released, but Doug MacRay, the brains behind the tough, tight-knit crew of thieves, can’t get her out of his mind. Tracking her down without his mask and gun, Doug introduces himself, and as soon as he and Claire meet, their mutual attraction is undeniable—as are…[more]

Book:California Girl

California Girl: A Novel

T. Jefferson Parker

California in the 1960s, and the winds of change are raging. Orange groves uprooted for tract houses, people flooding into Orange County, strange new ideas in the air about war, music, sex, and drugs, and new influences, ranging from Richard Nixon to Timothy Leary.

For the Becker brothers, however, the past is always present—and it comes crashing back full force when the body of the lovely and mysterious Janelle Vonn is discovered in an abandoned orange-packing plant. The Beckers and the Vonns have a history, beginning years ago in high school with a rumble between the brothers of each clan.

But boys grow up. Now one Becker brother is a cop on his first homicide case. One’s a minister yearning to perform just one miracle. One is a reporter drunk with ambition. And all three are about to collide with the changing world of 1968 as each…[more]

Book:The Havana Room

The Havana Room

Colin Harrison

The Havana Room is the tale of a man from his fall from the heights of power and wealth in New York to the moment where he might well die.

Bill Wyeth is a successful real-estate attorney in his late thirties with a wife and son, who, by the merest chance, loses everything: family, job, status. Unmoored and alone, Wyeth drifts toward the city’s darker corners. Restoration seems unlikely, redemption impossible, when Wyeth finds himself in an old-time Manhattan steakhouse. He is intrigued by the manager, Allison Sparks—sexy, complicated, and independent in all ways. She also controls access to the restaurant’s private bar. This is the Havana Room, and what goes on in there, he’s told, is secret.

Wyeth agrees to help Alison’s friend, Jay Rainey, in concluding a last-minute midnight real-estate transaction. As soon…[more]

Book:The Madman's Tale

The Madman's Tale: A Novel

John Katzenbach

It’s been twenty years since Western State Hospital was closed down and the last of its inmates reintegrated into society. Francis Petrel was barely out of his teens when his family committed him to the asylum, after his erratic behavior culminated in a terrifying outburst. Now middle-aged, he leads an aimless, solitary life housed in a cheap apartment, periodically tended to by his sisters, and perpetually medicated to quiet the chorus of voices in his head. But a reunion on the grounds of the shuttered institution stirs something deep in Francis’s troubled mind: dark memories he thought he had laid to rest, about the grisly events that led to Western State Hospital’s demise.

It begins in 1979, when twenty-one-year-old Petrel descends into the state-run purgatory of an overcrowded, understaffed Massachusetts mental hospital. Surrounded by inmates roaming the halls like drugged zombies and raving behind locked doors, well-meaning…[more]

Book:Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire: A Novel of Suspense

Peter Robinson

Fire. It violently destroys futures and pasts in a terrified heartbeat, devouring damning secrets while leaving even greater mysteries in its foul wake of ash and debris.

The night sky is ablaze as fire engulfs two barges moored end to end on a Yorkshire canal. On board are the blackened remains of two human beings. One was a reclusive and eccentric local artist, the other a junkie, a sad and damaged young girl.

To the seasoned eye of Inspector Alan Banks, this horror was no accident, its method so cruel and calculated that only the worst sort of fiend could have committed the dark act. And it isn’t long before the fears of Banks and D.I. Annie Cabbot are brutally confirmed, when another suspicious blaze incinerates a remote trailer in the countryside…and another solitary life is gruesomely consumed. …[more]

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